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Awesome: 12.44%
Worth A Look33.01%
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13 reviews, 131 user ratings

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Open Water
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by Josh Gryniewicz

"Yuppie Shark Chum"
2 stars

In concept "Open Water" is terrifying – snorkeling this summer in the Caribbean, I swam out past the buoys with a friend, while treading in deep murky waters one of us mentioned the trailer for the film. Suddenly those depths we’d just been diving down to touch seemed abysmally distant, the shore appeared even further away and my heart skipped a beat. This, unfortunately, was the scariest part of the movie.

The film centers on a rather annoying yuppie couple, Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan), who take a much needed island vacation from their hectic, exhaustively overworked lives. While on a scuba trip, they are overlooked by the crew and left abandoned in deep, distant waters among jellyfish, sharks and other sea dwelling creepy crawlers.

Inspired by the widely publicized disappearance of American tourists, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who were left behind through similar oversight in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, writer/ director Chris Kentis relied on ordinary dialogue, digital film and real sharks to provide authenticity. The early half of this sparse 79-minute film is spent establishing the chaos of the character’s daily grind, leading into their touristy tropical island experience. The desired intent is a “this – could – be – you – everyman – home – video” effect, short cutting characterization so that the audience has an automatic investment in the couple’s well being when things get nasty.

Instead of having that home movie flavor, doing for travelers to tropical paradise what the “Blair Witch Project” (1999) did for party happy, folklore tracking, would-be documentarians, the ill-fated couple’s island enjoyment looks about as sincere as a Visa commercial. By the time they hit the water, it was good to see that they could serve a purpose beyond ambling about their banal existence – even if that purpose is feeding sharks.

That being said, the real Tom and Eileen would have made far more interesting characters – having both done a stint in the Peace Corp and being more resourceful than their fictional shark chum counterparts. Daniel and Susan bicker, lament and appeal to the Discovery channel’s “Shark Week” as the only means of trying to control their fate. They demonstrate ingenuity only once throughout the film (a makeshift tourniquet when the sharks get aggressive) whereas, evidence suggests Tom and Eileen did everything possible to get back to safety (including scrawling a message sent to shore). Combined, Daniel & Susan have less survival skills than Ginger Grant, the movie star on “Gilligan’s Island.”

Here are some hints guys: 1) Look at the little bonus contraption on your diving watch, the arrow that doesn’t tell you how long you have been treading water – that’s a compass! Find the direction the boat took you and swim the opposite way; 2) When you see a boat, try swimming toward it! 3) For that matter, why don’t you just try swimming period! The filmmakers emphasize the theme that our hyper sophisticated technology is of no use when our mortality is pit against the elements, but the characters are so clueless I doubt they’d effectively use OnStar to get out of their situation.

At one point it seemed the film might redeem itself with a subtly underscored Alex Garland style metaphor – how our excessive workaholic lifestyles deprive us of life’s pleasures – the characters drowning both literally and symbolically. There is enough material to draw these connections: the couple’s awkwardness at just letting go, a defunct sex scene, a bitter argument about not having enough time for each other (while floating in the middle of nowhere) – but the film leaves these impressions on the surface. Anything beyond these impressions would be like drawing conclusions on “Moby Dick” by citing “Jaws”.

“Open Water” offers technique and concept in the absence of plot; the “Jaws” meets “Blair Witch” hype does a disservice to both films. Spielberg’s monster that devoured the summer season, despite its tainting of the film industry to push bigger, better, faster blockbusters over substance and the hideous franchise it bore, was as much a work of quality storytelling as it was an implicitly terrorizing thriller. On the same token, “Blair Witch” offered characterization in combination with style to exercise as much mileage as possible from the modernized Grimm’s fairytale motif.

The result of narrative in both these cases is self-evident. Hum a few bars of the “Jaws” theme song in the deep end of a swimming pool someone will get the shivers; suggest a night hike in a local forest preserve someone is bound to reference the Blair Witch – but “Open Water” will be long forgotten by next summer.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8548&reviewer=362
originally posted: 08/22/04 14:46:09
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell scary shark flick not 4 everyone 4 stars
11/04/15 David Hollingsworth Completely scary and intense. 5 stars
11/16/11 Steve Capell I would of liked some additional character development, but the movie held together well. 4 stars
11/09/11 matthew thompson dalldorf Zzzzzz... 1 stars
8/06/11 Hola Malisima! 1 stars
4/19/11 matthew Couldn't keep my eyes open 1 stars
12/18/10 millersxing It's scarier knowing that the crew braved shark-infested waters (no robot shark like Jaws) 4 stars
8/16/10 Sue Very real scenario....my cousin got left at sea just like this....very bloody scary 4 stars
8/05/10 Heather! Terrifying! I LOVED this film! The reality of the suspense was absolutely gripping! 5 stars
6/19/10 Heather this movie sucks because it passes its self off as a true story, they were never found 2 stars
1/03/10 plplouise requires some patience, unique--has an amateurish quality that makes all the more realistic 4 stars
3/15/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess It's hard to care about charactors who are less developed then dead fetuses. 1 stars
2/18/09 Alistor This is one of the fucking shittest films i have ever seen in my life, piece of pish! 1 stars
8/05/08 Bnorm Genuinely scary. killing blonde teenage whores isnt scary anymore; this was 5 stars
7/23/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
5/26/08 Beau quite suspenseful, it was hard to keeps my eyes off the screen! 3 stars
5/10/08 Tabitha Rabisa you wish you could jump in the movie and drown them after the first 15 minutes 1 stars
3/03/08 action movie fan harrowing and engrossing drama=very good 4 stars
2/15/08 Tracey Pounds terrible acting and went by so slow! 2 stars
2/13/08 Matt Slow. There's only so much you can do with this material and it ain't much. 3 stars
8/22/07 PC movie was really good 4 stars
8/20/07 wacky walley if the lady made love to the sharks at the end... I'd give 5 stars 2 stars
5/31/07 J.B Absolutely Terrifying. 5 stars
5/30/07 David Risser Actually pretty good! 4 stars
5/30/07 R.W. Welch Not a lot of polish but has a certain fascination. 3 stars
5/09/07 Cindy so fucking stupid, no sense, i was expecting alot more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
5/08/07 Tracey Chambers I kept thinking. would you just die already 2 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega A documentary in a horror movie, makes it look more scarier. 3 stars
12/30/06 del Good to a point, but turn monotonous and dull. Would've worked better as a short. 3 stars
11/17/06 Hien This movie was never about sharks. It's more about suspense and the psychological effects. 5 stars
11/06/06 ted bundy fuck it 2 stars
10/21/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, frightening 5 stars
10/09/06 Melanie it was slow and just crap 1 stars
8/13/06 Sharon CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP 1 stars
7/14/06 Louise This film really got under my skin - kept thinking, 'Thank God I am not in their situation' 5 stars
6/15/06 Michele a little slow but good 4 stars
6/01/06 Ole Man Bourbon Mother-fucking sharks, god dammit! Die, die, die!!! 4 stars
5/18/06 Amber Pifer Almost documentary realistic, which is what makes it so scary 4 stars
4/21/06 Jack Most Dramatic thing ever. I like it! 4 stars
3/23/06 jesika wtf? i have never been so insulted in all my life- the most stupid ass movie i've ever cn! 1 stars
3/07/06 myzzy It could have done without Jessica Alba, She only teased and took away from plot 2 stars
12/02/05 Jennifer S. This was the worst movie I have ever seen. 1 stars
11/26/05 cr based on a true story, supenseful and unrentless tension, actors were good way overated 3 stars
10/07/05 Jonathon Holmes an insult to "Jaws" 1 stars
9/01/05 Tom Burns Somewhat boring, but it did have some suspenseful parts. 4 stars
8/12/05 ES thank god they found that camera so they know what happened to them. hey wait a minute! 1 stars
7/16/05 bob johnson this movie wasnt scary at all and had NO action at all 2 stars
6/29/05 Eric Crooks Warning Jaws fans, this is NOT A SHARK MOVIE! It's just another crapy Love Movie 1 stars
5/19/05 wendy rogers One of the worst movies I have ever seen 2 stars
5/12/05 Jennifer Regan The ending was a big disappointment, I thought they would get rescued 3 stars
5/06/05 edsandiego2 I have been wanting to see this movie and after reading the reviews, I'll definetly will. 4 stars
3/28/05 indrid cold Interesting minimalist concept, but "Jaws" makes this look like "Finding Nemo". 3 stars
3/17/05 Sheila not bad, expecting something different 4 stars
3/15/05 Judith Musick AFTER THIS, NO BOATS FOR ME, EVER! 4 stars
2/23/05 Vince A very involving movie. Had me glued to the edge of my seat. 4 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Supposed to be a true story, how could they know? Disappointing! 2 stars
2/13/05 Nathan Wilhite It is very suspensful, and I don't think I ever want to go scuba diving! 4 stars
2/12/05 Deanna Diebler I didn't like the ending,or the nude scene that just seemed thrown in 2 stars
2/08/05 nannette ryan There is now much they could do with this movie. They wouldn't know what they did or thoug 2 stars
2/04/05 youreo The best part of this film is knowing how it was made. Slow but touching. 4 stars
2/04/05 A. Jason surrounded by shark ? who knows ? 1 stars
1/29/05 terri shaw TRUE STORY? How does anyone know what happened once the boat left? 1 stars
1/28/05 Darryl I liked it! Touched on every human emotion with many tense moments. Disappointing end. 4 stars
1/19/05 Joe Phone Booth was a good one-set movie. So was Cube. Open water, however, was not. 2 stars
1/15/05 Charlene Javier Much ado about nothing. 1 stars
1/08/05 Virginia Worst movie i have ever seen. i want that time that i wasted back. 1 stars
12/30/04 alchemist1066 think blair witch in water, idea's there, movie's not 3 stars
12/30/04 Geo78665 With better characters and more suspense, this could've been really good. 2 stars
12/29/04 Debra Sherman I wanted to drown both of them after about 1/2 an hour 3 stars
11/22/04 louis briiliant and real, 5 stars
11/19/04 Alice I liked it because I thought about it long after... 4 stars
11/19/04 A. Jason Not worth to be played in Cinema and DVD 1 stars
11/10/04 davey it was fucking shite 1 stars
11/05/04 TCIC The initial idea was good, but it wasn't carried out as it should have been 2 stars
10/23/04 john bale Not bad for a home movie of Jaws, but TOO long ! 3 stars
10/17/04 BD Even full frontal nudity couldn't save this film 1 stars
10/14/04 simba worst movie i ever seen in my entire life!!! 1 stars
10/13/04 Desperado Possibly the worst ending of all time, why? is the only question that need to be asked 1 stars
10/06/04 Rob P S Sad and disturbing. 4 stars
10/05/04 Jenny Tullwartz Totally amateurish cinematography -- Its THE BLAIR SHARK PROJECT 2 stars
10/02/04 rebecca mills the film was ok but to much talking. 3 stars
9/30/04 Elizabeth Effective psychological suspense on a low budget. 3 stars
9/29/04 Ashley Annoyed by the Film! 1 stars
9/20/04 Zee crap 1 stars
9/16/04 MC Best actors were the sharks 1 stars
9/15/04 christina chin 5 stars
9/13/04 Jenny R Worst Movie I've Ever Seen 1 stars
9/12/04 Mark R id rather pluck my pubic hair then watch this again, STAY AWAY FROM THIS FILM 1 stars
9/05/04 Harris Bad movie. Very disappointing. 1 stars
9/04/04 jeff s. this movie was very slow and boring. it characters were very annoying. 2 stars
9/03/04 malcolm 2 people bobbing in the ocean. so F-ing what! 2 stars
9/03/04 Vincent Very cool. Blair Witch meets Jaws. (Its true!) 5 stars
9/02/04 JM a great film 5 stars
9/02/04 Kim Thornburg This film absolutely sucked! The whole theater booed when it was over! 1 stars
8/30/04 Missy Libner Great movie. I would like to find out the truth to the real story. Where Can I find out? 4 stars
8/29/04 Rob Very plausable. Disturbs rather than entertains. I liked it. 4 stars
8/28/04 Ahnold Could've been better,but like already said, scary part is how easily could happen 3 stars
8/28/04 JM a great film 5 stars
8/27/04 Mike Next time I mention Open Water, hit me on the head, it would be less painful the movie ! 1 stars
8/26/04 Tom Cairns What kind of sharks,did you use 2 stars
8/26/04 janice sullivan waste of money 1 stars
8/26/04 Maureen McDevitt The scary part was how easily it could happen... 3 stars
8/25/04 Anthony G fucking boring, I was about to whip out my dick and start jacking off to entertain myself 1 stars
8/24/04 Pamela Marsen Ultimately disturbing & thought-provoking. Existential plot of man lost in the universe. 4 stars
8/24/04 Adam and Steve sucks 8======> 1 stars
8/23/04 Ruth Ferguson I was rather disappointed with this film, even @ 80 minutes it seemed long. 3 stars
8/23/04 Dee pscychological experience 5 stars
8/22/04 ajay okay... 3 stars
8/22/04 wasted $4 on this movie, zzzzzzzzzz to mention this movie along with jaws is a insult. no action, no nothin BAD MOVIE 1 stars
8/21/04 caity wolf this was a low budget movie that was very boring. i wanted to get up and leave during it. 1 stars
8/21/04 t t 1 stars
8/20/04 juan rodriguez movie was very stupid,should've had more shark attack scenes,better than jaws / not! 1 stars
8/19/04 Sandra Intense, hopeful and extremely sad -- two thumbs up!!! 4 stars
8/19/04 Eric Cash This movie did what vaseline does for gays, it made me feel good for 7 bucks or so. 5 stars
8/13/04 Pete One of the worst movies ever made-don't waste your money 1 stars
8/12/04 Janice Held my attention even though it was basically a two person cast. 4 stars
8/10/04 Lane Intense, but boring....I don't reccomend 2 stars
8/10/04 Anthony G wow so fucking boring, rather watch blues clues for a year than this one more time 1 stars
8/09/04 AL great move different stupid hollywood stories happy endings and effects 5 stars
8/09/04 Nikki THIS FILM SUCKED! 1 stars
8/09/04 dave finally a movie worse than' bio-dome' 1 stars
8/08/04 Chris I went and saw this movie last night and was fully disappointed. 1 stars
8/08/04 Alex a fine thriller...I felt detached from it at times, but left the theater shaken 5 stars
8/07/04 Mike what a rip!!! Worst fucking movie ever, soooo bored 1 stars
8/07/04 scott ward complete shit 1 stars
8/07/04 SHELLi it was grEat!!! i absolutally lOvEd it!! you won't exept what happens at the end, go c it!! 5 stars
8/07/04 Robert Britz It was hard to get scared in a theater that would not sop laughing. 2 stars
6/24/04 Ray Great 5 stars
5/29/04 dsfdf dfsgs 5 stars
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  06-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2004



Directed by
  Chris Kentis

Written by
  Chris Kentis

  Blanchard Ryan
  Daniel Travis
  Saul Stein
  Estelle Lau

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